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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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ities and personnel (27). Such a formulation, of course, implies that an important change with respect to any of the deficiencies listed could have at least some effect in reducing fertility; and that the objections to the policy are based on a set of specific technical and economic assumptions such as on the acceptability of the devices, their efficiency, their prices, etc. But such characteristics are surely amenable to change: prices can be reduced, devices can be made less repugnant, imports can be made more regular, etc. The degree of the change in fertility that can be expected as a result, hence a cost-effectiveness of such measures in terms of a lesser number of births or protection extended per man-year, is an empirical question to which empirical answers can be given.
Fertility Decline and Economic Development
It is often asserted, of course, that fertility decline is a consequence of development and not the other way around. The proposition is well taken, but if offered as a broad historical generalization, it is merely a truism. A detailed examination of the historical experience clearly indicates that even under sharply differing conditions as to contraceptive and communications technology, there existed no simple one-way relationships between the various elements of the development process: indeed a decline in fertility has started at varying levels of development and occurred at varying speeds (28, 29). This circumstance, which has thus far frustrated the attempts to construct a reliable predictive model of fertility behavior, would certainly suggest that the mix of the various components of modernization and the timing of their appearance can be manipulated within fairly wide limits. An early and rapid reduction of fertility, engineered through family planning programs, is thus at least a theoretical possibility not yet contradicted by historical evidence. The potential implications for speeding up economic development are obvious. If such a reduction does occur, it could hardly fail to induce significant feedback effect on other elements of the process of economic change.
This last observation suggests the most general type of positive externality brought forth by fertility reduction and the most plausible economic argument on which a first step beyond family planning, understood in a narrow sense, can be made. In today's less developed countries there exists a wide social consensus that the development processes are to be speeded up by purposive governmental action directed against the general manifestations of backwardness and by the positive promotion and support given to behavior consistent with a modern progressive society, the various facets of which form a mutually reinforcing network. Positive efforts to spread the acceptance of the modern pattern of reproductive behavior is part and parcel of the development process. Indeed, it is perfectly obvious that, once a social choice for modernization has been made, fertility reduction has to come sooner or